I wrote the following poem several months ago, partly inspired by my own experience with the National Health Service (NHS) and those of others with far worse conditions than my own, reported widely in television documentaries, local newspapers, and magazine articles. I recognize that the overall tone is quite dark, but I tried to write from the perspective of someone who has reached the point of despair within the NHS system.
by William Lollar
Across Gelliwastad, I felt the pain
And my breath became shorter but then I’d regain
That feeling that God was hunting me down
With his sights set on me in the middle of town.
Have I come all this way and all these years
To die without family or friends to shed tears
Near the steeple, the shops, and yesterday’s market
Yet alone on the pavement Continue reading →
This morning my wife and I drove into Cardiff for my doctor’s appointment at the University of Wales Hospital. After waiting an hour past my appointment time, I was a little cranky from the pain: a large cyst in my jaw was found nearly a month ago when my local dentist could not find anything wrong with my teeth. Surgery was scheduled for last Friday, but canceled at the last minute due to a lack of bed spaceâ€”a common problem in the National Health Service due to extremely high occupancy in British hospitals. Not willing to simply wait passively for another surgery date to come through my letter box, I requested an appointment with my doctor to see what could be done to expedite the process.
The reason I share the above details is to show that the most mundane events of life can present opportunities for befriending those around usâ€”even when extreme pain may be the driving force behind such encountersâ€”and being sensitive to God’s amazing work in human hearts. Unfortunately, our lives are lived at such a pace that we seldom recognize these missional moments; or we so compartmentalize our lives into secular and sacred that we Continue reading →
Last March I began experiencing symptoms that landed me in the emergency room for a couple of hours, but blood tests and an electrocardiogram ruled out a heart attack. That was good news! But I discovered that things move much more slowly within the National Health Service (NHS) of Britain: routine tests that would have occurred within forty-eight hours in America have just been completed this week, nearly eight months later. Every subsequent testâ€”like the treadmill stress test or echo cardiogram or angiogramâ€”has a waiting list of several months. Sometimes it takes two or three weeks just to find out one’s test results.
As a precautionary measure until more conclusive tests could be completed, doctors placed me on the same medications as a heart attack victim. It was really scary, because I couldn’t walk a hundred yards without stopping to catch my breath (and reaching into my pocket to make sure I had the nitro spray, just in case). And all the medical community could say with certainty was: “It’s probably just angina.” The symptoms disappeared after eight weeks. My doctor felt that the prescribed medications were just doing their job; but I was hoping for a more optimistic outcome. Earlier this week those hopes were dashed as an angiogram pulled back the curtain, so to speak, and revealed some serious heart disease that probably has more to do with genetics than anything else. Continue reading →